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Preemies go blind from nursery lights
but designers can prevent the harm
Group Calls for Replacement of Fluorescent Lamps
Each year, thousands of premature babies in neonatal intensive care units lose their sight to retinopathy of prematurity, or ROP.
According to a group called Prevent Blindness in Premature Babies, Inc. (PBPB), ROP is the leading cause of blindness in American children. This condition is preventable, says the group, by protecting premature babies from exposure to short- wavelength blue- violet light, which has not been proven safe for their eyes.
As a national, nonprofit organization of volunteers, PBPB is working to get hospitals to replace fluorescent lamps with incandescent lamps or else to filter out the most damaging wavelengths below about 500 nanometers. Its recommended checklist of lighting design questions for hospitals is as follows:
"As parents, we feel there does not have to be absolute proof of harm before precautionary measures are taken," writes PBPB President Margaret Watson.
Posted with permission from Aesclepius. Published in Fall 1997 by
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